Dance

10 Things to Know About Kosovo's Electronic Scene: DJ Regard's Guide to the Country

Regard
Etnik Nrecaj

Regard

Kosovo-born producer Regard has been putting the Eastern European country on the map within the electronic world -- and on the charts.

His 2019 dance hit "Ride It" (a remix of the 2008 track of the same name by English singer Jay Sean) spent 52 weeks on Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart, where it peaked at No. 3 and also crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, spending 10 weeks on that chart and peaking at No. 62. Last year's "Secrets," a collaboration with RAYE, hit No. 8 on Dance/Electronic Songs, while his current hit "You" -- a breezy collaboration with Troye Sivan and Tate McRae -- is currently atop that same chart.

Based in Ferizaj, about an hour south of the Kosovan capital of Pristina, the producer born Dardan Aliu takes his DJ name from the French word "regarde," meaning "to see." He's one of a string of artists with Kosovan roots, most notably including Dua Lipa, who are delivering pop music from the country -- which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 and currently holds a population of roughly 1.8 million.

Here, Aliu opens our eyes to the electronic scene in his native country.

The Best Club for Mainstream Dance Music Is: Venom, in the capital of Pristina. It’s a really nice, brand new club that’s just opened in town, with three bars over two stories. I just played opening night, and it was amazing to be back on stage after such a long time. I can’t describe how happy it felt to be back, dancing with my people again.

The Best Club For Underground Dance Music Is: Coco Club. It’s a little further away from the city centre in Pristina, but they do some great club nights with local artists. It’s always a really good vibe and a place my friends and I like to go to. 

The Best After Hours Party Spot Is: Usually we head to someone’s house. Sometimes a friend’s rooftop where you can get the most amazing view of the sunrise.

The Best Local Festival Is: Sunny Hill Festival – it’s the biggest festival in Kosovo, and I think almost the biggest in the region. [The festival was founded in 2018 by Dua Lipa's father, Dukagjin Lipa.] It’s usually in August, but they had to postpone because of Covid, like a lot of others. Usually the line up is a good mix of international and local artists, Calvin Harris, Meduza and Miley Cyrus played the last one. Hopefully I’ll be able to play at the festival soon; that would be pretty amazing. 

A Few Key Producers In the Local Scene Are: Drop G and Pluto Beats. Both of them produce dance, hip-hop, rap and commercial music. I worked with Drop G a lot in my early days of producing music – check him out on Youtube, he has some great house mixes there. Pluto Beats is a great producer too and doing some cool things; you might know a track he worked on – Flipp Dinero feat. Lil Baby, “How I Move.”

A Few Recent Kosovan-Made Dance Tracks You Should Listen to Right Now Are: “Pa ty” by Muma x Cricket -- an Albanian producer. He was also one of the producers behind a great track called “Bonbon” by Albanian artist Era Istrefi, which was released on Ultra a few years ago. There’s some amazing music coming out of Kosovo, not just dance tracks but some amazing [pop] artists as well -- like Dua Lipa and Rita Ora who have Kosovan roots -- and it’s great to see them get global recognition for it. 

One Thing I Want People in the U.S. to Understand About the Kosovan Scene Is: Kosovo nightlife gives a feeling you’re living in a place like Ibiza/by the beach, because it’s very hot during the summer and people here go crazy for nightlife with a lot of events. Kosovo traditionally is known for celebrating events, especially weddings that continue for a week. The Kosovo scene is having a lot of influence on German and Swiss rap genres, but in the meantime female singers are breaking through with lots of success around the world like Dua Lipa, Rita Ora, Era Istrefi, etc. 

The Things That Make the Kosovan Scene Distinct Are: Its talented producers, singers, songwriters, bands etc., that are beginning to get international recognition. But the country also has an amazing underground club scene for multiple genres of music; crowds go crazy at the shows, and we’re also so welcoming of international guests! 

A Style of Music Happening Only in Kosovo Is: There is so much great commercial rap and hip-hop coming out of Kosovo at the moment, with artists like Ledri Vula, Noizy, 2Ton, Mozzik and Kidda.

One More Thing I'd Like To Add: We, Kosovan people, are so ambitious. We always set big goals for ourselves and do the best we can to achieve them – and I also want to say a big thank you to my U.S. fans who have played a big part in helping me achieve mine. I can’t wait to come and play for you all soon!